Thursday, April 16, 2015

Talk: The Resurrection

Yesterday we were very blessed to have Fr Peter Mavromatis speak to us about the "Feast of Feasts!" To better understand the Resurrection of our Lord, here is a homily by St Epiphanios, Bishop of Cyprus (403 A.D.):
Something strange is happening: There is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and Hades trembles with fear. 
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve. The Friend of man goes to lead forth them held captive from ages past, those whom bitter death has stolen from God.
In a manner befitting God, He tramples down the tyrant of Hades and death, having with Him the immortal legions of the bodiless hosts. The blinding bolt of lightning from above darkened the countenances of the hostile powers of Hades and they heard thunder-like voices commanding, “Lift up your gates, O princes.” And they trembled saying, “Who is the King of Glory?” The hosts of the Master replied, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in war. This is He who by the Cross triumphed over you.”
Adam heard the sound of the Master’s feet as he came to the imprisoned, and He recognized His voice, which sounded in the prison as He walked. The Lord approached bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won Him the victory. At the sight of Him Adam, the first man He had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” 
“I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in Hades. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I in you; together we form one person and cannot be separated. 
“For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden. 
“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree. 

“I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in Hades. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you. 
“Rise. Let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am Life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. 
“Rise. Let us leave this place. Let us go from death to life, from corruption to incorruption, from darkness into everlasting light. Rise. Let us go from affliction to joy, from slavery to freedom, from prison to the Jerusalem on high. For this I died and arose, that I should be Lord both of the dead and the living.
“Rise. Let us leave this place. For my Heavenly Father awaits the sheep that was lost. The angels await their fellow servant Adam. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”
O faithful, let us now joyously welcome the Master’s resurrection on the third day. Let us behold it and embrace it, as we form one chorus with the angels and glorify Christ who raised us up from corruption and gave us life. To Him be glory and dominion with His Father, who is without beginning, and His all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit. Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

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